During an eight-start winless stretch between July and September, Boston Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront struggled as much mentally as physically, he admits.
"I think more focus and the mental part," he said. "I'm now pretty much strong. In the past, I was a little bit lost. Talking with the guys and the staff, working more on the mental part, that's helped me now."
Over his past two starts, Doubront has looked much more like the pitcher who took the staff by storm in the first half, and he's offering a reminder that he can be a part of the solution in 2013.
Doubront was borderline dominant for six innings of a 7-5 victory over the Rays on Tuesday, limiting the hosts to just one hit and striking out five while allowing three runs. His command was periodically an issue -- he walked five -- but outside of the third inning, he held the playoff-hungry Rays in check.
"I just want to finish strong," Doubront said. "I think for now I'm getting back my confidence. Today, just one tough inning, and I handled that and came back doing the best I can and gave the guys an opportunity to score and win the game. That was pretty important for me."
His final line would've been even better, but he walked the bases loaded in the third before Ben Zobrist plated two with a single to center. An Evan Longoria sacrifice fly then completed Tampa Bay's scoring against Doubront.
Still, Doubront delivered his second straight quality start, and he recorded his first victory in exactly two months.
"He was on the verge of coming out of the game (in the third), and he busted through that door again and he got his 11th win," manager Bobby Valentine said. "I'm really happy for him. He's been trying for that one a long time."